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Abstractions blog

Abstractions blog

A New Test for the Leading Big Bang Theory

Cosmologists have predicted the existence of an oscillating signal that could distinguish between cosmic inflation and alternative theories of the universe’s birth.

Belt trick illustration
Abstractions blog

The Strange Numbers That Birthed Modern Algebra

The 19th-century discovery of numbers called “quaternions” gave mathematicians a way to describe rotations in space, forever changing physics and math.

Art for "Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn"
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn

String theorists elide a paradox about black holes by extinguishing the walls of fire feared to surround them.

Abstractions blog

How Insulin Helped Create Ant Societies

Evolution may have coopted an ancient metabolic mechanism to set social insects on the path toward one of the most puzzling behaviors found in nature.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Abstractions blog

How Artificial Intelligence Can Supercharge the Search for New Particles

In the hunt for new fundamental particles, physicists have always had to make assumptions about how the particles will behave. New machine learning algorithms don’t.

Abstractions blog

Why Nature Prefers Couples, Even for Yeast

Some species have the equivalent of many more than two sexes, but most do not. A new model suggests the reason depends on how often they mate.

Diagram showing show the hierarchy of different classes.
Abstractions blog

A Short Guide to Hard Problems

What’s easy for a computer to do, and what’s almost impossible? Those questions form the core of computational complexity. We present a map of the landscape.

Photo of the sun
Abstractions blog

What Is the Sun Made Of and When Will It Die?

If and when physicists are able to pin down the metal content of the sun, that number could upend much of what we thought we knew about the evolution and life span of stars.